The St. Paul boys basketball team took a lead into the fourth quarter of Saturday’s non-conference game at St. Mary Central Catholic.
But the Panthers erupted for 27 points in the final eight minutes to pull away down the stretch for a 69-60 win — which dropped the Flyers to 9-9 overall.
St. Paul had trailed 23-13 after one quarter and 38-32 at halftime — but outscored SMCC (9-9) by a 12-4 margin in the third to take a 44-42 lead.
A 3-pointer from Jordan Jude and a basket and a free throw by JJ Fischer gave the Panthers a 48-45 lead in the first minute of the fourth, but the Flyers rallied with four straight points to regain the lead.
Myles Bruno followed with a bucket and Jude added another three-pointer to put St. Mary in front to stay.
“Our kids fought all the way back to take a little lead,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “I thought we had pretty good control of it. I called a timeout and told them we needed a stop, but they came down and hit a three, and all of a sudden we were playing from behind."
The Panthers also converted 8-of-10 free throws in the fourth to keep the Flyers at bay down the stretch.
Jude had a game-high 16 points to lead the Panthers with Fischer tossing in 15 and Bruno adding 14. Nathan Roesch rounded out the top scorers for St. Mary CC with 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
"We hit some big shots and I thought we were playing pretty decent defense overall," SMCC coach Lyle Falknor said. "They've got some trees out there, and we have to learn to deal with that. We're getting better and I think we have the potential to get even better, but that was a nice win for us."
Nick Winslow scored 13 points and Jake Griffin and 10 for St. Paul, which also got eight points and 10 rebounds from Paul Pearce.
St. Paul owned a 35-27 edge in rebounds, but also coughed the ball up 18 times, compared to eight turnovers from the Panthers.
"We were in a position to win, but we didn't take advantage of it and they did. It was that simple," Smith said. "The story of our season has been we haven't been consistent enough for four quarters."
In the junior varsity game, St. Paul posted a 55-32 win behind 19 points from Ian Kashian.